“And again, when he [God] bringeth in the first begotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him [Jesus].” – Hebrew 1:6 KJV

Pulpit Commentary

Verse 6. – And again, when he bringeth in the first-begotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him. The most obvious translation of the Greek here seems at first sight to be, “But whenever he [i.e. God] shall again bring [or, ‘bring back’] the Firstborn into the inhabited world, he saith;”ὅταν εἰσαγάῃ denoting the indefiniteness of future time, and the position of πάλιν connecting it most naturally with εἰσαγάγῃ. If such be the force of πάλιν, the reference must be to the second advent; which, however, is not suggested by the context, in which there has been no mention of a first advent, but only of the assignation to the Messiah of the name of Son. This supposed reference to a second advent may be avoided by disconnecting πάλιν in sense fromεἰσαγάγῃ, and taking it (as in the verse immediately preceding, and elsewhere in the Epistle) as only introducing a new quotation. And the Greek will bear this interpretation, though the order of the words, taken by themselves, is against it. The “Firstborn” (πρωτότοκος) is evidently the Son previously spoken of; the word is so applied (Psalm 89:27) in a passage undoubtedly founded on the text last quoted. The same word is applied in the New Testament to Christ, as “the Firstborn among many brethren,” “the Firstborn of every creature,” “the Firstborn from the dead” (Romans 8:29; Colossians 1:15, Colossians 1:18). And the idea conveyed by these passages may have been in the writer’s mind, and intended to be understood by his Christian readers. But for the immediate purpose of his argument he may be supposed to refer only to this designation as applied in the Old Testament to the SON already spoken cf. Thus the meaning may be, “But, again, with reference to the time when he shall introduce this SON, the Firstborn, into our inhabited world, he speaks thus of the angels.” Or it may be, “But whenever he shall bring a second time into the world the Firstborn who has already once appeared, he speaks thus of the angels.” But the first meaning seems more suitable to the general context. The force of the writer’s argument is the same, whichever view we take; the point being that, at the time of the advent of the So, whatever advent may be meant, the angels appear only as attendant worshippers. As to the understood nominative to “saith,” we may suppose it to be “God,” as in ver. 5. But it is to be observed that λέγει, without an expressed nominative, is a usual formula for introducing a scriptural quotation. The question remains – What is the text quoted, and how can it be understood as bearing the meaning here assigned to it? In the Hebrew Bible we find nothing like it, except in Psalm 97:7, “Worship him, all ye gods,” A.V.; where the LXX. hasπροσκυνήσατε αὐτῷ πάντες οἱ ἄγγελοι Θεοῦ. But in Deuteronomy 32:43 we find in the LXX., though not in the Masoretic text, καὶπροσκυνησάτωσαν αὐτῷ πάντες ἄγγελοι Θεοῦ: the very words, including the introductoryκαὶ, which are quoted. Hence, the quotations in this Epistle being mainly from the LXX., we may conclude that this is the text referred to. It occurs towards the end of the Song of Moses, in connection with its concluding picture of the LORD’S final triumph, in which the nations are called upon to rejoice with his people, when he would avenge the blood of his servants, and render vengeance to his adversaries, and make atonement for (Greek, ἐκκαθαριεῖ) his land and for his people. Viewed in the light of later prophecy, this triumph is identified with that of the Messiah’s kingdom, and is therefore that of the time of bringing “the Firstborn into the world.” cf. Romans 15:10, where “Rejoice, ye Gentiles,” etc., from the same passage, is applied to the time of Christ. It is no objection to the quotation that, as it stands in the Epistle, “the Firstborn,” though not mentioned in the original, seems to be regarded as the object of the angels’ worship. The passage is simply cited as it stands, the reader being left to draw his own inference; and the main point of it is that the angels in “that day” are not, like the Son, sharers of the throne, but only worshippers.

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